The one thing that did not stop during the COVID-19 pandemic was the need to effectively communicate when managing issues or dealing with a crisis. Many of the best practices for crisis management have stayed the same:
- Take control of the narrative by communicating the who, what, where, when and how information
- Quickly establish lines of communications with key audiences
- Clearly communicate what you know, and what you don’t know
- Provide frequent and regular updates
In a sense, communicating to employees and internal audiences during COVID has become a bit of a practice in crisis communications. What we know about COVID is constantly changing. Leaders of organizations need to take control of the narrative for their audience, be open and honest, and keep employees in the loop on what the evolving news means for them. Most importantly, management needs to find a way of communicating in an authentic way.
Of course, the one thing that has changed is the ability to communicate face-to-face. We know that nothing is more appreciated – or effective – that an in-person conversation between an employee and management.
But today, in a world of working from home and virtual meetings, the authenticity of an in-person meeting is unavailable. Townhall meetings were once a staple for large organizations to disseminate information quickly and effectively. Now, because of COVID restrictions, they are no longer a reality.
But before you try to replicate a townhall virtually to be efficient, I suggest an old-school approach: phone calls.
Chances are you will have more of the other person’s undivided attention than you would in a Zoom call or Teams meeting. And this novel approach doesn’t stop at internal audiences. Call your clients, call the media, call your suppliers. Pick up the phone and have the conversation.
While it may take more time, it will be appreciated and ultimately more effective for all parties involved.